Desmond Martin hopes to copy Joique Bell's NFL path

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Allen Park — He knows the comparisons are there — and he's just fine with them.

After all, the way Desmond Martin sees it, being compared to running back Joique Bell, whose dedication and desire eventually landed him an NFL job out of Wayne State, is a compliment.

"He paved the way for me to come from Wayne State," Martin said during minicamp this week. "He's the first one to make it, and for me to see him to do it and see him in his rookie year through now, the whole transition from being cut and finally making it on his hometown team, maybe I can follow him a little bit."

Bell graduated from Wayne State just as Martin was entering the program. The two, however, remained in contact throughout Martin's college years, and have become close.

"Now we're in the same room, the same building, he's like a mentor to me," Martin said. "We talk a lot more."

Martin, at 5 feet, 11 inches, and 221 pounds, enters a crowded competition in the Lions backfield which includes Bell, second-round pick Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, George Winn and undrafted free agent Zach Zenner.

But Martin, a former Redford Thurston standout, believes he's adjusting to the competition.

"The big thing is the learning curve," said Martin, who had 1,578 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior season at Wayne State. "There's a lot more you have to retain, a lot of information. You have to know what you're supposed to do.

"This minicamp is a refresher and about being more crisp in what you're doing."

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has liked what he's seen of Martin, but cautions camp doesn't begin until August.

But, Caldwell believes stories of local players making the Lions roster are always motivational.

"The great thing about it is that guys like that bring a lot of interest on with it from those within the community like Joique (Bell) and several others that have been here with us, George (Winn, a Southfield native), it's good for all of us," Caldwell said. "It's good for the community, it's good for the players, it's good for our team if he makes it. That's key."

And therein lies the challenge.

Martin said he's already seen a difference in talent between Division II football and the NFL.

"The NFL is bigger, stronger, faster," Martin said. "In Division II, I'm a bigger back and that benefited me, some of the linebackers weren't as big.

"Here, potentially there are linebackers bigger than me, same size as me, as fast as me. That's why they say things happen so fast here. With the timing at this level, you have to be on your stuff. You can't slack off. Everybody is talented and fast."